The 96th Bombardment Group was a B-17 group that took part in the Eighth Air Force's strategic bombing campaign over Europe and also supported the Allied armies fighting on the continent after D-Day.
The group was formed in the United States in July 1942. It remained in the United States for training, and was also used as an operational training unit for men who were later posted to other groups. The group moved to England in April-May 1943.
The 96th was one of five new B-17 Groups to become operational in May 1943, greatly increasing the power of the Eighth Air Force (the number of available crews rose from 100 to 215 on 13 May). It was allocated to the newly formed 4th Bombardment Wing. Its first mission was an attack on the German airfield at St Omer-Longuenesse on 13 May. The group was unable to attack its target on this first raid, but its second mission, on the next day, was more successful and the German airfield at Wevelghem in Belgium was badly damaged.
The group took part in the strategic bombing campaign over Europe for most of the rest of the war, attacking industrial and military targets across Germany and occupied Europe.
It was also used to attack coastal defences, transport links and German artillery positions during the D-Day period, supported the American breakout at St Lo in July 1944, attacked road and rail junctions in August 1944 and also dropped supplies to the Maquis. During the final Allied advance into Germany the group was used to attack the transport links between the German front line and their remaining sources of supplies.
The group won two Distinguished Unit Citations. The first was won on the Regensburg mission of 17 August 1943, where the group was one of few not to lose any aircraft. The second came on 9 April 1944 when the group led the 45th Wing through heavy anti-aircraft fire to attack an aircraft components factory in Poland.
After the end of the fighting the group was used to transport food to Holland, and to move military personnel into Germany and to French Morocco, Northern Ireland and France. The group returned to the United States in December 1945 and was inactivated in the same month.
|The Schweinfurt-Regensburg Mission, Martin Middlebrook. A very detailed account of the costly American daylight raids on Regensburg and Schweinfurt of 17 August 1943, a pair of maximum effort attacks that were meant to cripple parts of German industry but instead made it clear that even the heavily armed B-17 Flying Fortress couldn't operate without fighter escort. [read full review]|
1942-1945: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
|28 January 1942||Constituted as 96th Bombardment Group (Heavy)|
|15 July 1942||Activated|
|April-May 1942||To England and Eighth Air Force|
|December 1945||To United States|
|21 December 1945||Inactivated|
Col Archie J Old Jr: 6
Col James L Travis: c. 6 Sep 1943
Col Robert W Warren: Jun 1944
Lt Col Robert J Nolan: c. 27 May 1945
Salt Lake City AAB, Utah:
15 Jul 1942
Gowen Field, Idaho: 6 Aug 1942
Walla Walla, Wash: 14 Aug 1942
Rapid City AAB, SD: 30 Sep 1942
Pocatello, Idaho: 30 Oct 1942
Pyote AAB, Tex: Jan-Mar 1943
Great Saling, England: May 1943
Snetterton Heath, England: 12 Jun 1943-12 Dec 1945
Camp Kilmer, NJ: 20-21 Dec 1945
337th Bombardment Squadron: 15 July 1942-29 November 1945
338th Bombardment Squadron: 15 July 1942-15 December 1945
339th Bombardment Squadron: 15 July 1942-29 November 1945
413th Bombardment Squadron: 15 July 1942-19 December 1945
1943: 4th Bombardment Wing; VIII Bomber Command; Eighth Air Force
1943-February 44: 45th Bombardment Wing; 3rd Air Division; VIII Bomber Command; Eighth Air Force
February 1944-45: 45th Bombardment Wing; 3rd Air Division; Eighth Air Force; US Strategic Air Forces Europe